The advent of 5G wireless technology means the utility industry will soon have its work cut out for it.
The new 5G network runs on a whole new spectrum of previously untapped radio waves that will require new pole installations to function.
Because 5G is in its early rollout phase, the majority of the necessary equipment has yet to be installed, and experts predict it will take the next decade to have 5G built into a fully functioning network. It’s estimated that 800,000 new small cells will need to be installed by 2025 to meet the demands of 5G technology. These small cells will result in a dramatic increase in pole attachments and other infrastructure attachment applications for utilities to review and process. This is where MCR Safety enters the picture, protecting the countless utility workers bringing this network to life.
Utility workers wearing some of our latest utility next-generation 5G PPE discussed below.
Read on to find out everything you need to know about this new technology and the PPE necessary to get the network established.
What is 5G?
The moniker “5G” indicates that this is the fifth generation of cellular wireless, and 5G will make 4G LTE obsolete in the same way that 4G LTE replaced 3G around the start of this decade.
The technology isn’t meant to be applied only to cell phones, but also to smart homes, connected cars, and Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Around 100 million established mobile 5G connections are expected in the United States by 2023, and 1.9 billion are expected worldwide by the end of 2024.
Downtown Chicago Showing the Internet of Things
How fast is 5G?
5G will enable customers to stream HDTV, surf webpages quickly, and even make first-class video calls. 5G is expected to increase speeds by 100 gigabits per second, up to 100 times faster than 4G.
5G speed is fast!
As we mentioned, 5G wireless is not only going to outperform earlier wireless cellular network speeds, but is also expected to eclipse current home cable and fiber technologies. Experts predict that 5G wireless will have a speed of around ten Gbps (gigabits per second), which is 100 times faster than the theoretical maximum speed of 4G LTE.
The Consumer Technology Association estimates users will be able to download a two-hour movie in 3.6 seconds with 5G, compared to the six minutes it would take on 4G LTE and 26 hours on 3G. Plus, reduced latency (a delay in the transfer of data) of around 4 ms would mean faster load times on almost any application.
Previously, broadband companies like Comcast and Cox were able to dominate the marketplace in certain regions because they were the only high-speed internet providers available to consumers. The emergence of wireless 5G will revolutionize consumer internet options without requiring that new wires be run to every home.
Broadband companies may find themselves facing stiff competition with better speeds.
Verizon’s 5G Map
Verizon is a recognized leader in building communication networks. You can be assured that they’re on top of building the latest, most powerful 5G experience for America and developing the 5G phones people will be using. Below is a link to Verizon’s 5G coverage map, broken down by specific cities.
Click the above image for Verizon’s coverage map.
Providers promise that 5G wireless mobile connections will be faster than home cable connections. The four major U.S. wireless services (AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint) have already begun to offer early versions of the service, but it’s currently limited to major cities and only available on expensive devices. Plus, current technological limitations mean that the signal only travels about 800 feet from a cell site, so coverage is extremely limited.
All four providers are currently working on upgrading their base sites for improved coverage, speed, and reliability to push the technology out of the beta testing phase and make it available to the general public.
5G Technology’s Impact on Telecommunications
There is one big question on everyone’s mind: How will 5G affect utilities? Just look at the above image, and you can imagine the impact of 5G. There are a lot of things requiring power, which means the utility industry will be super busy in the coming years, installing new equipment and keeping up with the increasing electricity demands put on the system.
As 5G technology becomes more commonplace, several utility industry technologies will drastically impact the wireless functionality, new high speeds, and low latency of 5G. Here are several of the areas expecting to impacted:
Connected services are expected to see incredible growth. The massive Internet of Things will see new sensors and other embedded technologies for equipment and asset monitoring, early warning systems, and emergency management.
- Massive machine-type communications are a brand-new area of service enabled by the low latency and long battery life 5G offers. New devices are expected to allow communication between sensors, machines, and other equipment to automatically monitor assets.
- 5G could revolutionize robotic automation in the utility industry, helping keep human workers safe and freeing them from menial busywork to focus on more important tasks.
5G Utility Infrastructure Needs
5G shares the same low-band and medium-band radio wave spectrum with 4G LTE, but also breaks into a high-band range called “millimeter wave” (or mmWave for short). This bandwidth is where 5G gains significant speed, but mmWave is also burdened by a short-range and a weak object penetration strength. It’s recommended companies anticipate their 5G needs and invest in equipment early.
5G repeaters on a pole. With all of that metal, cut hazards are a concern for workers. More on PPE to protect from these hazards coming up below.
To tap into the mmWave, telecommunications companies will require new “small cells” and antennas. Because of mmWave’s short range, many small cells will be needed—it’s estimated that the network will require around 800,000 by 2025. This means a dramatic increase in pole attachments and other infrastructure attachment applications within the utility industry.
4G vs. 5G and 5G Small Cells
There is a debate going about how the limited space on the mmWave spectrum should be allocated in the United States. Currently, the telecommunications industry holds a majority of the power in the discussion, but groups advocating for the energy sector argue that space should be devoted to the nation’s electrical grid to help avoid the risk of grid failure in the future.
How safe is 5G? Is 5G dangerous?
This question is a hot topic of debate and a contentious topic for many, as some scientists have been accused of fear-mongering. With that said, there are over 250 scientists and medical doctors who have signed a 5G appeal for an immediate moratorium on 5G deployment. The World Health Organization (WHO) has classified 5G as possibly carcinogenic, so there are some well-documented studies and reports encouraging a more cautious approach to deploying 5G.
Technically speaking, 5G technology is such an advanced technology, there is limited long-term research into its health effects. Little is known, in fact, about the impact of 4G technology, as governments have not funded research into the effects of 4G exposure, never mind that of 5G. This causes some opponents to stress the need for more research around exposure limits. Proponents suggest there are limited effects to 5G exposure and multiple studies have been published, including one in Forbes magazine called The Science Of Why 5G Is (Almost) Certainly Safe For Humans. In it, Ph.D. and Astrophysicist Ethan Siegel asserts that if you're not afraid of coffee, you should not be afraid of 5G. With regard to protecting people, there is one thing Dr. Siegel mentions that is concerning, and that is the danger posed to electrical and construction workers who build and install the wireless towers required to create a 5G network.
At MCR Safety, we don’t take a stance either way regarding the safety of 5G exposure. We only present both sides to you and give you the opportunity to determine your position. Our purpose is protecting people at work, and those people include the electrical workers and construction workers installing new towers and small cells. That will be our focus from here on.
Next-Generation 5G PPE:
Utility Gloves, Utility Safety Glasses, and Breathable FR Clothing
When working on state-of-the-art technologies in the utility industry, the danger of flash fires and electric arc fires increases the risk of burns. Think of this way: there are 5 to 10 arc flash accidents that occur every day in the U.S. So, when demand becomes even greater for utility personnel to install 5G technology, it stands to reason that more people will be working around electricity. In turn, this means the frequency of electric arc incidents is sure to increase, even with proper safety measures taken.
The American Burn Association estimates 486,000 people are treated for burns yearly, and OSHA estimates that 10 to 45 percent of all burns occur in the workplace. There’s a critical need for personal protective equipment (PPE) to be worn, especially reliable flame-resistant (FR) clothing.
FR Clothing with Summit Breeze® Technology is worn by both electricians and linemen.
FR clothing is created with fabrics that won’t burn or melt when removed from the flame and will not ignite. Electrical contractors and utility linemen wearing these items reduce the amount and severity of burn injuries from flash fires and arc flashes. Reliable FR outerwear and workwear should cover the user’s upper and lower body and should only come from a manufacturer with trustworthy quality control procedures, like MCR Safety.
Most importantly, every piece of workwear should be designed with comfort and breathability in mind to discourage removal, and accurate sizing should be taken into account, even if this means ordering special sizes. We have an entire section devoted to FR clothing below, but next, more on utility gloves and safety glasses.
MCR Safety Leather Utility Work Gloves
We mentioned the need for installing new sensors and antennas for 5G to ultimately operate. For this installation, electrical workers and linemen will be handling a lot of wires, rope, and framing equipment. We polled roughly 50 electrical linemen in 2018 about what applications on their job sites require high-quality gloves. Here are the top 5 activities they identified:
1. Framing poles
2. Chainsaw use
3. Setting poles
4. Setting meters
5. Substation work
In reviewing their responses, MCR Safety saw the need to retrofit some of our styles to ensure we offer the right PPE for the job. So, we’ve been actively sprucing up our utility workman gloves to accommodate the upcoming utility PPE needs. The two gloves shown below were both designed with the utility worker in mind. The one on the left features a DuPont Nomex back for both comfort and flame-resistant properties. The one on the right features a unique rope channel palm tailored to the needs of linemen handling abrasive objects, such as rope.
MU3624FR and the 962, a non-FR rope channel palm glove.
The rugged rope channel on the palm is reinforced with tough DuPont™ Kevlar®.
Below, we highlight an array of different arc-rated leather gloves. Just click on the one you are interested in learning more about.
MCR Safety Utility Safety Glasses
We mentioned earlier how we polled utility linemen about gloves; we’ve done something similar with safety glasses. MCR Safety has attended the International Construction & Utility Equipment Exposition (ICUEE) for the last several years. At this and similar tradeshows, we listen to utility workers and solicit feedback via surveys. We also allow linemen and other workers an opportunity to try out any of the styles we carry. There is one trend we’ve picked up on: linemen love polarized safety glasses!
Listening to this feedback, we’ve designed a style of dielectric (no metal) polarized safety glasses. The new SR5 glasses are sure to be an instant hit, as utility workers face the glaring sun almost every day. With the SR5, there is no more glare when trying to concentrate around hazardous electrical equipment.
We didn’t stop there, though. We know linemen need excellent anti-fog protection, so we equipped the inner lens with a 6X greater anti-fog coating. And we’re not done yet; we also coated the outside with a 3X greater scratch-resistance coating and included an inner foam liner to keep dust out. Most utility work involves construction at some point, which means dust is active somewhere.
When we say “We Protect People,” it’s not meaningless lip-service. That promise is backed by a constant focus on the user’s needs that we act on daily to improve our products!
MCR Safety FR Clothing – Triple-Vented
To give linemen, utility workers and electricians the breathability they need, MCR uses patented Summit Breeze® technology in our FR clothing. What’s special about this FR technology? Its mesh venting is incorporated onto the back and under the arms, allowing body heat to escape where it builds up the most.
Summit Breeze® technology provides better heat stress management for those working in a hot environment, those who are performing labor-intensive tasks, or a combination of the two. When working in an environment prone to heat stress, vented openings can be a lifesaver. MCR Safety is the only manufacturer providing FR clothing with three total FR mesh vent openings, allowing for exceptional airflow.
Summit Breeze® Technology
Sometimes it’s tempting to choose the cheapest clothing option and save a buck, but you risk putting yourself in danger when you do not select workwear that is both flame-resistant and designed to keep you cool and comfortable. The least-expensive garment that meets the minimum requirements of the standard may not be the best value in the long run.
5.5 oz. FR Workshirt powered by Summit Breeze®
Triple-Vented, Lightweight, and Durable with Ripstop Inherent Blend
Summit Breeze FR Work shirts
In addition to offering triple vents, MCR Safety utilizes comfortable moisture-wicking work fabrics that are lightweight without being clingy. At just 5.5 oz., our ripstop inherent blend material is one of the lightest-weight Category 2 fabrics available on the FR clothing market. Combined with Summit Breeze® triple-vent technology, our workshirts are breathable, moisture-wicking, and extremely durable.
Triple Vented FR Work Shirts
You’ll find triple vents on all MCR Safety FR clothing powered by Summit Breeze® technology. MCR Safety is the only FR clothing manufacturer offering patented triple vents.
Breathable FR fabrics protect you from the heat of an arc flash or fire while allowing your body’s heat to escape. Moisture-wicking fabrics catch and dissipate your sweat so it isn’t dripping down your body. Check out our selection of FR clothing and choose from our variety of double-stitched ripstop shirts and triple-stitched ripstop coveralls for PPE that can stand up to any work hazard, whether that’s actual flames or working around the abrasive objects found on any industrial worksite.
Our Summit Breeze collection includes more than FR shirts. We offer FR coveralls and in a variety of materials and weights. Our next section will show you how to access all Summit Breeze FR clothing protection!
MCR Safety’s FR Clothing Resources
MCR Safety believes in offering high-quality products that provide superior protection. In addition to that, we are passionate about making sure you’re informed when making crucial PPE decisions. That is why we offer electrical workers links to numerous FR resources to stay up-to-date on all relevant PPE, standards, hazards, and much more.
Here are the resources we’ve assembled to help you find the most appropriate FR clothing:
Summit Breeze® PDF on the left side; FR Online Catalog on the right side.
Utility linemen and electrical workers across the country are now armed with one of the lightest, most comfortable FR products available on the market. Are you ready to try out MCR Safety’s FR clothing with Summit Breeze® technology?
If you are, we’re happy to pay the shipping to send you one of our FR products! We know you’ll be satisfied, but if you’re not quite as certain, we’re happy to issue a risk-free product trial period, too! Just leave us a comment here with your interest and we’ll be in touch.
Get your 70E FR Clothing with Summit Breeze technology on order today! We can either have your preferred distributor process the order or we can send one out via our Buy and Try website. Let us know what product you are interested in, and we will help get your risk-free trial order processed and shipped to you.
We understand if you’re overwhelmed by all the new technologies that have emerged in the last 10-20 years. As the Internet of Things grows and our reliance on high-speed internet increases, it doesn’t look like this advance of technology will end anytime soon. From self-driving cars to thermostats you can set from your phone, 5G is going to change the way we live. Rest assured, though, MCR Safety will be there every step of the way, protecting you on this 5G journey.
For over 45 years, MCR Safety has proven to be a world leader in gloves, glasses, and garments. Whether it’s on the shop floor, an oil rig, or a construction site, we are there providing solutions to workplace hazards. It’s all part of our commitment to protect people.
No matter your industry, we have the personal protective equipment you need.
We Protect People!
For more information, browse our website, request a catalog, find a distributor, or give us a call at 800-955-6887.